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Materion is one of only a handful of companies able to consistently refine gold to the 99.999% purity level. That level of purity is required by some of the most advanced high technology companies.

New technologies in market sectors such as wireless, LED, semiconductor and medical devices increasingly require higher-purity advanced materials with controlled characteristics. Such materials can raise the bar on end-product quality and enable designers to push the limits of their applications.

Materion is one of the world’s largest suppliers of gold products with a purity of 99.999% or greater. This level of purity, known commonly as 5-9s, means the gold has no more than 10 parts per million of other metallic impurities. Materion employs specialized refining technologies in process control and some of the most sophisticated analytical equipment available to ensure that these grades can be consistently produced.

The largest use of these high-purity source materials is the production of thin films using physical vapor deposition (PVD). In PVD processes, the film is formed by atoms transferring directly from the source through a gas phase and onto the substrate. The two technologies utilized most frequently for these PVD processes are e-beam evaporation and sputtering.

During evaporation processes, and in particular, the process of being deposited as a thin film onto a semiconductor wafer, gold can be prone to eject droplets that solidify into solid particles on the wafer. This can lead to improper functioning of a microelectronic circuit and even require the scrapping of whole production lots. 

Materion has been very successful in reducing this behavior, called “spitting,” by developing the proprietary EVAPro™ product line. EVAPro is a proprietary manufacturing process that deactivates this material while producing ultra-highpurity evaporation materials with both low organic and inorganic impurities, while ensuring superior surface cleanliness. These next-generation materials enable customers to increase yields and tool up-time.

Materion has developed other proprietary techniques to enhance the performance of other high-purity and specialty products such as sputtering targets, specialized wire and strip materials it provides to microelectronics manufacturers. 

In sputtering applications, the uniformity of the deposited thin films is critical to the performance and cost of the device. SFG™ is a manufacturing process that optimizes the structure of Materion’s sputtering targets. Properly controlling the grain and crystal orientation of the target results in higher-yielding, more consistent deposition. 

“These processes and others are all part of our full lifecycle precious metals management service, which is a major differentiator for us in the marketplace,” says Derrick Brown, Materion Microelectronics & Services Vice President of Marketing. “By integrating refining, product manufacture, precision parts cleaning and recycling into a closed loop, we are able to significantly reduce a customer’s total cost of ownership over the precious metals lifecycle.”